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Learning For All

In a Rapidly Changing World, Governments Need to Make Education a Priority

Donna Barne's picture
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, left, and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, right, pose with education campaigners Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, who were caught up in the Pakistan gun attack on Malala Yousafzai and are in Washington to lobby for greater educational access. Photo: Roxana Bravo/World Bank

The world needs to step up efforts to educate large numbers of young people to meet the challenges of the 21st century. That was a key message at the Learning for All Symposium, Investing in a Brighter Future, at the IMF-World Bank Spring Meetings.

The event, moderated by PBS News Anchor Judy Woodruff and webcast in three languages, linked what several participants described as an ongoing “learning crisis” with high unemployment among young people worldwide.

While a lot of progress has been made getting children into school, 57 million are still out of school. Studies have found that education gaps are impeding skills development, economic growth, and competitiveness around the world. In 2011 it was estimated that 73 million young people were unemployed globally. Youth employment rates are two to four times as high as those of adults in most countries.

Reaching the Classroom Is Just the First Step

In his recent Huffington Post blog, World Bank President Jim Kim spoke about how the learning crisis is one of the greatest obstacles to development. According to the United Nations, an estimated 171 million people can lift themselves out of poverty if all students in poor countries acquired basic reading skills.

Let's Make it Learning for All, Not Just Schooling for All

Elizabeth King's picture

The World Bank Group Education Sector StrategyWhat a thrill I had this past Friday listening to our World Bank President Bob Zoellick launch the Bank Group's new Education Strategy 2020: Learning for All. Having spent nearly 18 months traveling the world to consult with our partners (government, civil society, NGOs, development agencies) about the best experience and evidence of what works in education and about the role of the Bank Group in the next decade, I feel somewhat like I've given birth, in this case to a global framework for education which we believe is the right one for the coming decade.

Jomtien, 20 Years Later: Global Education for All Partners Must Renew Commitment to Learning

Elizabeth King's picture

Twenty years ago when I was a relatively new economist at the World Bank, I was part of the Bank’s delegation to Jomtien, Thailand, where the heads of several multilateral development agencies, bilateral aid agencies, and leaders of 155 developing countries came together to declare their commitment to universal primary education.

I remember that the mood was upbeat—and not only because the venue was set along Thailand's sunny coast. There was a strong shared feeling that it was time to recommit to education as a basic human right, as highlighted by James Grant, the Executive Director of UNICEF at the time, and as a powerful instrument for reducing poverty and promoting development, as outlined by Barber Conable, World Bank President at the time.